Karen Musalo

Karen Musalo

In addition to her pro bono legal advocacy, Musalo teaches international law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco; she also directs the institution’s Center for Gender & Refugee Studies as well as its Human Rights Clinic.

In a “New York Times” op-ed piece published in May 2018, Karen Musalo and co-author Jane Fonda wrote:

“In recent years, the United States has been something of a beacon of hope for women fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries. In 2014, in a giant step forward, immigration courts explicitly determined that a person fleeing severe domestic violence may be granted asylum here if the violence rises to the level of persecution, if the government in the victim’s home country cannot or will not punish her abuser and if various other criteria are met. It’s a high bar but one that, sadly, women from many countries can clear. Now their last chance at protection may be under threat.”

The following month, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed asylum protections for domestic violence victims — protections Musalo has been advocating so strongly for.

Musalo long ago achieved fame for her starring role in two leading cases — one on behalf of a domestic violence victim and the other for persuading the immigration courts to grant asylum to victims of female genital mutilation.  Most recently, she has garnered national attention regarding the high-profile litigation of the Salvadoran woman known legally as “A-B-“ who was seeking asylum on the basis of 15 years of brutal violence from her husband. Sessions’ legal reversal means this woman, and countless others, will be deported back to their origin countries and delivered back into the arms of their abusers. Reacting to this reversal, Musalo claims this ruling “basically throws us back to the Dark Ages.”

Musalo is the keynote speaker of the panel, “Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Crisis in U.S. Policy” on September 20, 2018.


The New York Times: Her Husband Beat Her and Raped Her. Jeff Sessions Might Deport Her.